Frequently Asked Questions

What is Defenders' mission?

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. We work to protect and restore America's native wildlife, safeguard habitat, resolve conflicts, work across international borders and educate and mobilize the public. For more information, go to

How does my money donated for an adoption or gift help wildlife?

Defenders is proud of how carefully we spend your contributions to save America's wildlife and wild places. Please see our Annual Report.

Is my adoption or gift order tax-deductible?

Yes. Your adoption or gift order is tax-deductible to the full extent allowable by law. Typically, at least 80% of your donation will be tax-deductible and often much more if you don't choose to receive a plush animal or Gifts & Gear item. Your receipt (on last page after completing order and by email) will indicate the amount of your donation that is tax-deductible.

How long will it take to receive my adoption or gift package?

The estimated shipping time is indicated at the bottom of every Adoption Center web page. During holiday periods, orders are shipped more frequently and require less time to arrive. The US Postal Service does not guarantee delivery times.

During peak holiday periods, express shipping is available at an additional $6 per item and super express shipping is available for $15 per item. To take advantage of Defenders' express shipping offer, choose the express shipping option for each item that you wish to have express shipped on the Checkout or Cart page.

How will I know when my order has been shipped?

We will send you an email within 24 hours after your order has been shipped. If you do not receive this email within 5 days of placing your order, please check your bulk or spam mail folder. If you cannot find the email, please contact us via our Customer Service page.

Can I adopt at the last minute and receive my order the same day by downloading a digital certificate?

Yes! On your receipt page after completing your order, there will be a link to download a PDF document with a Certificate that can be personalized and a Fact Sheet. You must have Adobe Reader to download and personalize the Certificate and download the Fact Sheet. (If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it for free at PDFs are compatible with Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 7.0 and above). All adoptions and Wolf-Saving Gifts include a free downloadable Certificate and Fact Sheet; however, Gifts & Gear gifts do not. You can find a link to the downloadable Certificate(s) on your receipt email as well on the receipt page. After personalizing the Certificate, you can save the file and email it to your gift recipient.

Can the Certificate to my gift recipient be personalized?

Yes, you can personalize your Adoption Certificate or Wolf-Saving Gift Certificate with the recipient's name by entering it in the required field on the item's order page. However, if you do not fill in this field, the certificate name will default to the shipping name. If you choose to leave the certificate blank, please type ten underscores ("shift" + "-").Yes, even if you download your certificate, your recipient can still look forward to receiving the adoption or wolf-saving gift kit in the mail.

Can I add a personal note to my gift recipient?

Yes, for any adoption or wolf-saving gift, you may add a gift note up to a maximum of 250 characters. Your gift note will appear at the bottom of a congratulatory letter enclosed with your adoption or wolf-saving gift kit. Gifts & Gear do not currently allow for inclusion of gift notes.

What if I don't want the plush toy animal or all the "stuff"?

For any adoption, you can choose not to receive the animal plush and the Kids Wildlife Activities Book on the order page for a specific adoption. This will maximize the amount of your donation going to save our imperiled animals. You can also choose a Wolf-Saving Gift, which does not include a plush or other items; these gifts include only a certificate, fact sheet and photo.

Can I ship an adoption or gift outside of the US?

Unfortunately, we are unable to ship any part of an adoption or gift kit outside the US.

Can I make an adoption or gift outside the US?

We are unable to ship adoption or gift orders internationally; however, anyone can make an adoption or gift from anywhere in the world so long as it is shipped within the U.S.

There are other ways to support Defenders' work as well! Non-US residents can donate online at or mail a donation (check or money order in U.S. currency) to:

Defenders of Wildlife
National Headquarters
1130 17th Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20036

Please note that these donations will not result in an adoption order. The only way to order an adoption is to go through the website ( or call (800) 385-9712.

When I adopt, am I adopting an actual animal? 

No. When you participate in the adoption program, you are not adopting a real animal; however, your donation will further our work with that species as well as our work on other imperiled wildlife and the habitat it needs to survive.

Can I give an adoption in memory of or in honor of a person or pet?

Yes, you may. When you select an adoption, you will have the opportunity to tell us if it's in memory of, in honor of, in celebration of, or in tribute to a person or pet. Be sure to include the name of the person or pet so that we can include it on the Certificate.

Can I gift-wrap my adoption order?

Yes, you may. When you select an adoption, you will have the opportunity to tell us if you wish it to be gift-wrapped in an environmentally friendly, reusable tote bag made from 100% recycled plastic. You or your gift recipient can reuse this sturdy tote as gift-wrapping or for your groceries or books. The reusable tote is offered for an additional $8 donation. The reusable tote is not currently offered for Wolf-Saving Gifts or Gifts & Gear orders.

Can I adopt more than one animal or gift at a time? 

Absolutely! Just choose all the animal adoptions and gifts you'd like, then proceed to checkout where they will appear in your shopping cart.

I'm giving this adoption as a gift. What will the gift recipient receive? 

For every adoption gift given, the gift recipient will receive:

  • A personalized Certificate of Adoption, 5x7 Photo, and a Fact Sheet about the adopted animal.
  • All animal adoptions at $25 or more also receive a plush replica of the adopted animal.
  • All animal adoptions at $45 or more receive a plush replica and an optional Kids Wildlife Activities Book.
  • All animal adoptions of $60 or more receive the additional framed certificate and photo (excluding Ice House and Eco-Plush adoptions, please see below.)
  • All Ice House adoptions receive an Ice House Plush and an optional Kids Wildlife Activities Book.
  • All Eco-Plush adoptions receive an Eco-Plush and an optional Kids Wildlife Activities Book.

You can also download and personalize a digital Certificate of Adoption and Fact Sheet on your receipt page after completing your order. The kits are downloaded as PDFs which are compatible with Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 7.0 and above. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed, you can go to and download Adobe Reader now (we recommend using version 9.x).

Where and how are the animal plushes and other gifts made?

To maximize the funds that we can spend on our innovative and successful wildlife conservation efforts, we must keep the costs of acquiring special gifts, or "premiums," at the lowest possible level in our global economy. We have found sources in China to be reliable producers of low-cost goods of a quality high enough to bear the Defenders logo. We work with a supplier that is very concerned about worker safety and health - so much so that they have visited the facility multiple times and have conducted social audits to ensure adherence to labor practice requirements. In addition, our supplier has conducted testing on our plush animals, and they are well under the established safety guidelines for lead and other chemicals.

Help! I had trouble downloading my digital certificate and fact sheet.

The kits are downloaded as PDFs which are compatible with Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 7.0 and above. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed, you can go to and download Adobe Reader now (we recommend using version 9.x or higher).